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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

‘Mario never stopped dreaming’

The world had not seen any new works by Mario de Miranda,one of the best cartoonists and illustrators of India.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai | Published: December 12, 2011 12:48:49 am

For the past couple of years,the world had not seen any new works by Mario de Miranda,one of the best cartoonists and illustrators of India. Parkinson’s disease had made it difficult for him to draw. Yet,the artist,who was using a mechanised wheelchair for some time now,had never stopped drawing.

“The result was not always nice as he couldn’t control the lines or stop them from being smudged. Yet,he never stopped dreaming. He always talked about working on a new series and bringing out new books of his work,” recalled publisher Gerard da Cunha as this dreamer-artist fell silent forever on Sunday morning at his Goa residence.

Da Cunha,primarily an architect by profession,has published several collections of Miranda’s work in the past five years under Architecture Anonymous.

A family friend of many years,da Cunha said Miranda died in his sleep on Saturday night. “He had woken up around 1.30 am last night and spoken to his wife Habiba. He was found dead in the morning.”

The funeral will be held once his elder son Raul,a hairdresser who lives in New York,reaches Goa. His other son Rishad,a cartoonist,lives in Goa.

Miranda,creator of memorable characters like Miss Fonseca,Bundaldass and Miss Nimboopani,has been a chronicler of social life in Goa,Mumbai and the numerous countries he toured. “He relentlessly documented the places and people he visited. This is a marvellous quality he possessed,” veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal said.

Benegal shared a strong association with Miranda. Benegal’s wife Nira had published several books by Miranda while working with the India Book House. They hung out together with their shared bunch of friends,which included RK Laxman,Dom Moraes,Vinod Mehta and Nissim Ezekiel.

Benegal had done the entire shoot of his film Trikaal (1986) at Miranda’s ancestral house in Goa’s Loutolim. Miranda had moved back to this 17 th century semi-Mediterranian style mansion after his retirement. Though the Benegals were not in regular touch with Miranda after that,they remember him as “a very close friend and a wonderful human being”. “Mario was a very generous person and he got hopelessly exploited in the way,” the filmmaker said.

Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks described Miranda as a national treasure. “With Mario Miranda’s passing away,I have lost a dear friend,Goa its best ambassador,the art world a gifted artist and India a national treasure. So,so sad and devastated,” Rodricks said. “May his legacy endure for all cartoonists as an inspiration and ideal.”

The extensive and exhaustive work of Miranda in cartooning and illustration remains an inspiration for younger artists. All his life barring the past few years,Miranda has been quite prolific. The books published by Architecture Anonymous will serve as proof of his prolific genius.

The latest book of the celebrated artist— 1951 by Mario de Miranda—was released last October at the Mumbai edition of Comic Con. Miranda had been keeping a diary—full of sketches,illustrations and doodles-from the age of 10. This book is a graphic diary of the life of Miranda in 1951. He had just finished his BA at St. Xavier’s College,Mumbai,and was spending time in Goa. He did a drawing almost every day. The book covers social satire,vistas of Goa,festivals and family gathering besides a host of other subjects.

Da Cunha is waiting to see the kind of response the book enjoys. “If this book is well received,I want to publish one book every year,comprising pages of his diary. This can be helpful in studying how his style evolved,” he said.

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